One of Hull’s most influential and inspirational amateur sporting clubs is looking forward to a bright new future thanks to the support of local businesses – and Garness Jones is delighted to be part of the team in its corner.
Managing director Dave Garness has been appointed as a Trustee of the recently established St Paul’s Boxing Academy charity, as plans push ahead to carry out a major £375,000 refurbishment of the club’s facilities, and provide ongoing support.
Mr Garness has joined a number of other local business figures who have become Trustees to ensure St Paul’s is run with a clear focus on ensuring its long-term sustainability – protecting a service which he says has ‘made a hugely positive contribution to the city over many years.’
The club provides hundreds of youngsters with a positive start in life, teaching them discipline, respect and key life skills, with many describing being part of the club as being like a ‘family’.
It has over 500 members, including more than 30 different nationalities and over 20 per cent female.
Now, thanks to support of Sport England via a substantial grant pledge, Hull City Council, local trusts, growing contributions from local businesses and a newly launched ‘Friends of St Paul’s’ fundraising drive, the club is set to be transformed for use in 2020.
Gym will include kitchen space, office and classroom facilities
Plans for the club, which has operated for many years from a crumbling former dance hall, were announced during the recent Humber Business Week by East Riding businessman Andrew Horncastle, who has also become a Trustee.
For the plans to come to fruition further funds still need to be raised through the ‘Friends of St Paul’s’ initiative and support from local businesses.
It will see the boxing gym completely revamped with the interior roof space renovated to reveal a stunning vaulted ceiling space which is currently boarded over, new heating will be installed and a glass-fronted viewing area will be created for boxing officials and watching parents.
New kitchen space, an office and classroom facilities will also be provided, whilst longer term the St Paul’s team also wants to invest in new IT facilities to enable them to video and play back sparring sessions.
“The positive impact of St Paul’s Boxing Academy on people in Hull, particularly young people, cannot be understated, it has been phenomenal, “ said Mr Garness.
“It is even more staggering when you look at the quality of building it has been done from, and how it has operated. It has been run on a pittance for years, not only delivering champion boxers of which the city is so proud, but also nurturing and developing young people with great life skills and qualities.
“When you see what has been achieved, and the motivation of the volunteers who run the place, you can’t help but wonder what could happen with the right support. That support is now in place.”
Mr Garness first became involved with St Paul’s more than two years ago when invited to visit the club by committee chair John Rutherford. He says he immediately knew it was an organisation he wanted to support.
“I saw a club where people were not just being taught to box, but were being taught discipline, work ethic, honesty and respect – all the things I want in my business and in my family. All the things everybody wants,” he said.
“I can remember Mike Bromby, who runs the club, speaking about why he does what he does, and he simply said he does it because he loves it, and the young people he helps love it too.
“It was clear then that the academy needed help and some advice and support to ensure all the hard work and success of the past 70 years was not lost – but in fact was built upon and turned into something even more special.
“Mick gives almost every waking hour to keep the gym running, to train young people, to organise and travel to competitions and to help them develop as people. I don’t think there is a man and organisation in Hull deserving of more support as Mick and St Paul’s.”
Club helped Hull boxer Luke Campbell on road to Olympic Gold
St Paul’s Boxing Academy was established in Hull in 1948 and has been labelled the ‘Home of Champions’, having produced Hull’s Olympic Gold Medalist Luke Campbell and fellow professional Tommy Coyle at the Church Side gym, which stands in the shadow of Hull Minster.
“It is absolutely wonderful to have people come forward and support us in this way, it is overwhelming to be honest and I get emotional talking about it,” said Mick.
“For me, it is not about making champion boxers, it is about creating champions in life, helping develop good, positive young people and improving their life chances.
“This support will transform the club, not just in terms of facilities but in terms of not being hand to mouth and worrying about how we cover costs or have enough money to travel and attend competitions.
“It will hopefully give us more time to focus on training with the kids which is great, because it is what we all love, and it is that which is the most rewarding.”